Possum Cat Gate 2014

by terra on May 21, 2014 · 9 comments

in and some other stuff

So there I was, letting the dogs out for their last pee of the night and Luke comes running back in, like the good dog he is, and yet Sadie is over on the other side of the yard, sniffing around and being far too interested in something and so I, realizing the potential for a small critter about to be dog-snacked-upon, I tip toed barefoot across the yard, thinking that maybe it was a frog or something, but no.

It was a possum.

A BABY possum.

And I know. I know how people feel about possums. They are god damn terrible to look at sometimes and they have rat tails and they’re ugly and blah blah blah. I know. But I think they’re sort of cute, and really, I mostly just don’t want dead things in my yard and it was far too late for me to bury anything because, no matter what Andrew told me to do with that dead bird that one time, NO, I will not just throw a dead thing over the fence.

I chased Sadie away from the possum and after inspecting it (from a slight distance), decided that maybe it just needed a little space because the thing about possums is that they’re assholes and they’re super good at playing dead so I couldn’t tell if this little possum was actually dead or just possum dead, so I went back in the house, provided an update to the other residents, including Luke who seemed very concerned, and, after about five minutes, I went back outside to check on the possum.

And it still looked dead.

So I stared at it some more. I couldn’t see any blood. It looked ok, minus the fact that it looked dead. So I went back inside again.

Waited five minutes.

Went back out.

And was breathing! But it wasn’t moving. It had pushed itself back up against our fence a little bit, but it was breathing and I, very carefully, tried to move some of the plants that it was behind with my bare foot before realizing that that’s how you get rabies, is by poking not dead possums with your bare toes. I was on the phone by this point, providing a play-by-play of the possum situation and I think I actually yelled at myself about not poking possums and thus, not contracting rabies.

Since the possum wasn’t moving much, I decided to give him a bit more space, sat on the porch talking on the phone and half listening for any rustles in the leaves and then, when I went back again, he was gone. Not a trace.

I realized I was ridiculous somewhere in the middle because it’s a possum that the dogs caught and really, that IS what dogs do, and yet, there I was, totally trying to come up with a plan for how to save this poor beast if he was, in fact, injured, how I would get him in the house and how I would treat his possum wounds and what I would name him and so on and so forth.

So really, what I’m saying, is this is the story of how I almost got a possum.

Although actually, it’s the SECOND story of how I almost got a possum, because apparently when you’re Snow White, you almost end up having possum pets on a fairly regular basis.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Ash May 21, 2014 at 11:37 am

Oh, Terra, there are no words to explain how much I love this story.
It reminds me so of something that happened to me a few days ago… I went out onto the screened in porch to find the insatiably curious black cat, who wants to be a hunter and is good at catching things but yet to actually kill anything, crouched over a coiled up young snake. Not wanting to even consider the possibility it was a young copperhead and therefore venomous, I unceremoniously grab black cat, throw her in the house and scream for Ben to come help, slam the door shut, turn around, and find black cat has streaked through door and is back at snake! I repeat the process, and this time Ben hears me through his headphones. It takes 2 more attempts to get cat inside and door closed, so focused (and fast) is she.

Finally I turned my attention to the rather beautiful snake on my porch, trying to remember all my long ago lessons in snake identification. I’m pretty sure it’s a young black rat, but it does have a lovely pattern in black and grey – and black rat snakes can have that rather than be all black, but I must be absolutely sure it’s not a dark phase copperhead (they always have patterns) who could have bitten the cat! I’m going down my fuzzy mental checklist, when snake gets tired of being stared at and makes a break for a dark corner… so, I grab the snake by its tail and pull it out, while saying something about how this is how people get bit by venomous snakes… but with snake dangling and squirming, I remember it should not only have a triangular head (it doesn’t, but that’s not very pronounced on young snakes) but slit eyes and pits on its nose if it’s a copperhead. It doesn’t, so, with a sigh of relief, I let the snake move over my hand to inspect it for cat-induced injuries… and it made a break for the nice, dark, sleeve of my jacket, and had to be removed! But I was remembering by then all the times Kerry MADE me handle a snake, all those many years ago, so it was getting more comfortable.

I was really glad to find it didn’t have any injuries, and was remarkably mellow for all the harassment it had been through. It had likely been 15 years since I picked up a wild snake, so I was very proud of myself – and it was a real beauty, freshly shed with shining, soft skin. Snake was safely released deep in the woods, and cat was severely scolded. Sure could have ended differently if it had been a copperhead, but we’ve only ever seen one up here on the Mountain… and hope it stays that way!
Thanks for sharing your Snow White adventure and reading mine! Hugs!
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Emilie May 21, 2014 at 12:08 pm

It is so funny that you posted this today — I was thinking of you and your Snow White capabilities last night. I acquired an injured feral cat about a month ago and finally trapped her last weekend, took her to the vet for surgery, and now she is recovering in a dog crate in my grandparent’s spare bedroom. But, the feral-ness! Oh man. It is bad. She escaped from her crate last night (more like bolted straight into the closet) as I was replenishing her food supply. She is most definitely terrified of humans and probably thinks that I set out to ruin her life by doing all of this. It took me two hours to get her out of the closet and when I finally did, she was dashing all over the room like a mad-cat. Up the walls, on the dresser, up the curtains…you would never know she had 20+ stiches on her back where they operated. I finally cornered her in the window and threw a blanket over her to calm her down and was able to pick her up and put her back in the crate. I feared for my life for a few seconds though, and there was more than one moment where I thought to myself, “I really wish Terra was here to make this easier,” because you’re animal-saving powers are much, much better than mine. I felt utterly defeated by the time I got home and proceeded to drink a lot of wine and tell my non-feral cats how thankful I am that they don’t think my sole purpose in life is to ruin their lives.

I think possums are so ugly that they are almost cute. If it weren’t for their tails…
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Ash May 21, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Emilie, you wrote that you felt “utterly defeated” by the time you got home, but I think you should have felt utterly triumphant! A feral cat in a panic is a nightmare of hissing and flashing claws, and you’re to be commended for sticking with it long enough to catch it again – and, of course, for getting it veterinary care in the first place! Job well done!

Oh, and possums and the cuteness factor? My very first possum close encounter was shortly after I moved to the mountains (and away from suburbia). I came home one dark evening, stepped onto our porch, arms loaded with groceries, and flipped the light switch. Not a foot from my hand – and right at eye level – was a mama possum with a bunch of babies on her back, on a shelf. This would have been cute, except she had opened her mouth wide to show teeth worthy of a T-rex and was hissing at me. Loudly. Let’s just say that the groceries went flying and yes, there might have been screaming… I think I still have possum induced ptsd, although I have become rather fond of the possum that eats our compost every night… from a distance. ;-)

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Emilie May 23, 2014 at 9:32 am

Thank you so much – your comment really made my day! We are slowly making progress so I’m cautiously hopeful that things will continue this way. I wouldn’t want to mess with a mama possum, or any mama-critter for that matter!
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Nora May 21, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I’ve never really thought about a possum being ugly before, but I can see that the tail thing is not anyone’s favorite. Secret: anytime I see a dearly departed animal on the road, side of the road, whatever, I always get all teary-eyed. I hate it! Can’t stand it. I’m a huge fan of the chipmunks and rabbits and other wildlife that we have in our backyard (except the feral suburban cats but that is because they fight outside my bedroom window at least once a week and they wake me up and I will tolerate almost anything EXCEPT being woken up) and I will protect them from my neighbors.
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Emilie May 23, 2014 at 9:42 am

I bet if you contacted a local rescue group they would probably trap-neuter-release the feral cats in your neighborhood! Altering them really reduces the fighting and creates a much more peaceful environment for the cats and their human neighbors.
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Abby May 21, 2014 at 10:38 pm

I think possums are cute. So count me in on the possum loving.
Also, I saw a gopher today and thought of you. SF doesn’t have squirrels, but they do have gophers — which are like… ground squirrels?
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Amanda June 4, 2014 at 7:34 am

NO SQUIRRELS?? At all??
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Amanda June 4, 2014 at 7:34 am

OMG I think opposums (as I like to spell it) are SO CUTE!!! Their mangy fur, those beady eyes, , their little EARS, those WHISKERS, that ratty tail! HANGING UPSIDE DOWN FROM TREES!

There was a possum who lived in/near a trashcan outside my dorm in college and I always used to take out scraps to feed him. He ended up eating out of my hand by the end of the year!
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